WildStar Fully Integrates Player Housing in a Quirky Sci-Fi MMO

| 28 Mar 2013 23:34

One of the final holy grails of MMOs is a meaningful place to call your own and WildStar nails it.

Big time MMOs get a lot of things right such as kinetic combat or a great story, but ever since Ultima Online, player housing isn't usually first on the bullet point list. WildStar changes all that with a wonderful system that lets you completely personalize nearly every single thing about your abode. Not only that, but you can add components outside your house that work with every other system in the game, from flight points to raid buffs, and collecting them from drops or through crafting becomes its own minigame. The player housing is just one of the many ways Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney's team is making WildStar stick out when it releases later this year.

The story of WildStar is a bit unique. A powerful race of interstellar beings protected a planet called Nexus, but they've disappeared and the rest of the galaxy has descended on this WildStar to delve its mysteries and get stinking rich doing it. As one of the adventurers come to Nexus, you'll be able to buy a plot of land to build your house - but it will be floating in the sky. You can see other plots in the distance, and even jump to them if you can, which cements the concept for the player. I was impressed at the skillful design idea allows an infinite number of players to create their personalized house without needed to spread houses out along the land.

The engine for designing the interior your house is just insane. You can put any object anywhere. There's hundreds of collectibles to choose from such as fancy chairs, lamps or decorative scientific equipment. You can turn, pitch or yaw any object and place it, and there's a physics engine so you can even jump on each piece you place. Wallpapers, paneling colors and flooring are customizable too, and there's enough building blocks that if you don't have something in your menu of items to place, chances are you can make it up. For example, during the presentation at PAX East, one of the devs used 4 pieces of a short fence to create the approximation of a child's play pen. Suddenly, those plush animals make sense in the game.

Outside your house, you can of course decorate it how you like with fences or lampposts, but the "plug" system is what really sets housing in WildStar above the curve. Each plot of land has about 20 places you can install a module or "plug" as the devs call them. Some of these are purely decorative, but most of the plugs have an in-game function. Some examples Gaffney gave were a wishing well can be interacted with once a day to provide a random piece of loot, a garden that can be harvested for crafting materials, and a statue that will provide a buff suitable for raiding. There's flight paths and speed boosting plugs, as well as simply fun plugs such as the one that lets you jump really high off of it.

WildStar has a ton of standard MMO features like interesting races, action-oriented combat and a two-faction PvP system, but I was really impressed with how Carbine Studios was able to make a player housing system that felt like it was a thread in the fabric of the game, and not just a patch on top of it. I like forward to buying my plot of land when WildStar comes out later this year.

Check out my preview of the Path leveling system from the PAX East presentation of WildStar.

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